Jon Lester puts Boston on brink of another World Series title

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Lester enhanced his reputation as an October ace with every pitch. He allowed one run and four hits in 7 2-3 innings, striking out seven without a walk. Nearly the same line he had in beating Wainwright in the opener.

Lester won again while working with Ross, a journeyman catcher.

“I think the biggest thing is me and Rossy have had a good rhythm,” Lester said.

The lefty who’s won all three of his career World Series starts had just one scary inning, when Matt Holliday homered in the fourth, Carlos Beltran flied out to the wall and Yadier Molina hit a liner. Other than that, Lester was sharp as a knife while retiring 12 in a row.

He tweaked his back late, but said he was all right. In fact, Lester’s biggest brush with major trouble came well before his first pitch.

Lester was getting loose near the warning track when a team of eight Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon came trotting by — it’s a tradition at Busch Stadium and Lester moved aside to watch the horses.

He also took a brief break with two outs in the seventh when the paper airplane appeared. Some fans cheered its flight as it almost glided to the mound. Lester handed it to a ballboy, and retired Molina to end the inning.

“Me, Yadi and the umpire were pretty impressed. That was a nice throw,” Ross said. “We were all talking about that.”

Koji Uehara got four outs for his second save. No crazy endings this time, either, following one night with an obstruction call and the next with Uehara’s game-finishing pickoff.

The Cardinals went quickly in the ninth, and now need two wins in Boston. They overcame a 3-2 deficit at home to beat Texas for the 2011 title.

“The guys know what we have to do,” manager Mike Matheny said. “We have to play the game. They have to lock arms, trust each other and play the game the right way. Most of it is going to be the mentality of not buying into any kind of stats, any kind of predictions, any kind of odds. And go out and play the game.”

Ortiz put Boston ahead with an RBI double in the first, hitting the first pitch after Dustin Pedroia doubled on an 0-2 curve. Ortiz singled the next time up and tied the Series record by reaching base in nine straight plate appearances.

Big Papi and the Red Sox took two of three at the NL park despite playing without a designated hitter. Ortiz became the first baseman, putting slugger Mike Napoli on the bench.

The Red Sox lead the Series despite a .205 team batting average. Ortiz has one-third of the team’s 33 hits.

Ross, a graybeard on a team led by scraggly veterans, broke a 1-all tie when he hooked a drive just inside the left-field line, and the ball bounced into the seats for a go-ahead double.

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